British Gas is the UK's best known and largest energy supplier with around 13 million customers and a 20% share of the electricity market. However, despite dominating as part of the Big Six for many years, they have dropped from 25% market share in 2013, losing millions of customers to the growing number of smaller, independent suppliers.
British Gas at a Glance
- Electricity: 43% renewable
- Gas: 0% green but carbon offset
- Based: Windsor
- Founded: 1997
- Customers: 13 million (2018)
- Established and trusted brand name
- Prices tend to be the cheapest of Big Six
- 43% renewable energy (highest of Big Six)
- Terrible customer reviews
- But, fewest complaints of Big Six in 2018
British Gas Customer Reviews
To begin with, let's take a look at what British Gas customers say about the company and outline some common opinions on the standard of their customer service.
When it comes to choosing a supplier, getting the cheapest deal may be your first priority, but it's also important to choose a supplier with a reputation for providing great customer care. The last thing you want to deal when experiencing a problem with your gas or electricity are difficulties getting in touch with your supplier, long call waiting times, or unhelpful support staff.
Typically the Big Six suppliers are known to offer pretty shoddy service on the whole and in our experience, British Gas are no exception.
Customers of British Gas on online review websites are not often satisfied with many frustrated, angry and upset reviews. In fact on Trustpilot, British Gas have a pretty shocking score of 2.3 out of 10 from over 4,500 reviews and an overall rating of "Bad".
“Worst supplier I've known. Customer service is shocking. Bills were sky high.”
Hundreds of customers have left scathing feedback claiming British Gas offer "exceptionally poor service", whilst many others posted complaints of engineers failing to turn up for boiler replacement or maintenance services.
Unsatisfied customers have claimed some call centre staff to be "rude", "arrogant" and "aggresive". Others have had to suffer through long call waiting times to get through to someone and then hours spent on the phone trying to get a solution to their problem.
“Joined British Gas for gas and electricity on Tuesday left today Thursday. Spent 3 hours on telephone on Wednesday to customer service and got no help at all.”
In the interests of fairness and providing a balanced view, let's look at the opposite side of the coin. There are in fact some customers who feel quite the opposite about their experiences with British Gas.
For example, a handful of customers have praised British Gas' engineers as "polite and courteous" as well as friendly and worth paying the higher prices for. Others have been delighted with the service received over the phone, including customers such as Miriam.
“I rang this morning on behalf of my elderly mum. I spoke to a lovely lady called Claire who was so helpful, compassionate and professional. She dealt with my enquiry very efficiently and I felt to be a valued customer. Very impressed with her service!”
However, despite a handful of glowing reviews, the majority of customers tend to be unhappy with the quality of customer service received. Despite having the most customers of any gas and electricity supplier in the UK, they don't seem to be doing much to satisfy and retain them. Perhaps this is why they have lost millions of customers in recent years to the smaller suppliers.
In the year between October 2017 to September 2018, British Gas received over 580,00 complaints. These complaints were mostly (575,000) dealt with overall but only around 53% before the end of the next working day. This is a great improvement compared to their complaints numbers in 2012 to 2013 which hit over 1.2million, although they had more customers at the time.
Of all complaints, 23% were about payments, 20% about billing, 15% about customer service, 11% about metering and 6% about communication.
In order to address their complaints and further reduce these numbers, they have claimed to have made significant improvements. This includes extra staff training and improvements to their systems with new, more efficient technology to make it easier to contact British Gas customer services.
British Gas History
British Gas in its current form was founded in 1997. However, its ancestor, the Gas Light and Coke Company, was the first public utility company in the world (1812). It became British Gas in 1986 when the gas industry was privatised with the Gas Act. British Gas became a subsidiary of Centrica in 1997 and is still owned by Centrica in 2019.
As well supplying electricity and gas to households and businesses in the UK, the British Gas parent company Centrica owns a fair share of electricity generation and natural gas production and storage facilities.
Centrica Storage Ltd owns the Rough natural gas storage facility, which is able to meet up to 10% of the UK's peak demand, by far the largest natural gas storage facility in the country.
Centrica's combined-cycle gas turbine and wind power stations account for over 4% of the UK's total electricity generation capacity.
British Gas Energy - Fuel Mix
Unlike the other Big Six suppliers, British Gas supplies most of its energy from renewable sources (43%), closely followed by natural gas (37%).
Their reliance on fossil fuels has dropped dramatically over the past few years and coal now only accounts for 7% of its fuel mix.
British Gas Tariffs & Prices
British Gas offer various tariffs including variable, fixed and prepayment options including:
- HomeEnergy Secure May 2021 - Fixed until 31st May 2021
- Everything Online Green Dec 2021 - Fixed tariff, 100% green electricity
- HomeEnergy Fix Jan 2020 - Fixed until 31st January 2020
- Green Drive Nov 2020 - Economy 7, cheaper energy between 12.30am-7.30am
- Safeguard PAYG - Pay as you go tariff
To help us compare British Gas against the rest of the Big Six and the smaller green suppliers, let's take a look at an example tariff and their prices for a typical 3 bedroom house in London.
To do this we gained quotes from British Gas using the UK average annual energy usage of 3,100 kWh of electricity and 12,500 kWh of gas, on a monthly direct debit with our sample London postcode.
|Everything Online Green Dec 2021 (Electricity)||Everything Online Green Dec 2021 (Gas)|
|Type of tariff||Fixed price until Dec 2021|
|Green gas||-||0% (but carbon offset)|
|Exit fees||£40 per fuel|
|Unit rate||17.66p per kWh||4.33p per kWh|
|Standing charge||24.38p per day||26.01p per day|
|Monthly cost||£53.01 per month||£52.97 per month|
|Total per month||£105.98|
|Total yearly cost (3 bed house London)||£1271.76|
Prices correct as of January 2019
The sample quote above of £1,271 per year is one of the more expensive quotes we have received for any supplier here at The Switch. Compare this price to companies such as Pure Planet (£926), Octopus Energy (£962) and Bulb (£1,109) and you can see that actually there are plenty of cheaper green suppliers around.
Although there are cheaper suppliers than British Gas, they are also not the most expensive. Suppliers such as Co-op Energy quoted us a whopping £1,486 for equal usage in the same London postcode. Rapidly growing supplier OVO Energy also offered a very similar quote of £1264 per year, just a few quid cheaper than British Gas.
Contact British Gas
As you would expect from the UK's biggest energy supplier, there are numerous ways to get in touch with their customer services for help with any issues you may have.
British Gas Phone Numbers
To speak to a customer service representative you can find the relevant department's phone number below.
|Topic||Contact numbers||Opening hours|
|Account Enquiries||0333 202 9802||Monday to Friday: 8am - 8pm
Saturday: 8am - 6pm
Sunday: 10am - 4pm
|Pay As You Go Enquiries||0330 100 0303||Monday to Friday: 8am - 8pm
Saturday: 8am - 6pm
|Moving Home||0333 202 9505||Monday to Friday: 8am - 8pm
Saturday: 8am - 6pm
|Join British Gas||0333 202 9802||Monday to Friday: 8am - 8pm
Saturday: 8am - 6pm
|Gas Emergency||0800 111 999||Open 24/7|
There is also an extensive help and support page on their website offering answers to many common queries related to bills and payments, account issues, moving home, smart meters and more.
The British Gas help and support section also includes an online chat feature available if the help documentation doesn't solve your issue.
British Gas, PO Box 4805
Worthing, BN11 9QW
British Gas Login
Customers of British Gas can access their bills and account online in the portal area accessible on the British Gas website.
To login to your British Gas account, simply click the button below to be directed to their website.